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Tips for Miscellaneous

Leave it to Beaver



Leave it to Beaver

or Castor Blaster

by Linda Burch Dahlen

Staff Writer-Minnesota

Three years ago after a busy tax season, I treated myself to a trip to the cabin for a walkabout. To my dismay, several of my main trails were underwater. A year later, rewind and repeat, only this time there was more water and it lasted almost all whole summer. Enter spring 2014 and my cabin was nearly afloat in the swamp that had risen several feet. Upon exploring, the problem came to light: an overpopulation of beavers had built another dam, effectively flooding a significant part of my land.

BDSC 0010



Read more: Leave it to Beaver

Physical Activity

Physical Activity

By Julia Heinz

Staff  Writer


 Hey Doc, I’m sitting on my couch, considering a walk but is there any proven health benefit from exercise. I need proof; it’s raining outside.


Hi Windy, Indeed , there is strong evidence that regular physical activity meaning at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week reduces your risks for breast and colon cancer, hypertension, stroke, diabetes, heart disease and depression. Clearly the definition of moderate and vigorous activity is dependent on your level of conditioning. I think of moderate meaning you can talk in complete sentences while exercising but need to catch a breath between sentences and vigorous means you need to take an extra breath every few words. In the studies moderate and vigorous was defined in number of "mets". You can find out more specific detail by searching " 2008 Physical activity guideline", if you are interested.

Dr Julia

Hey Doc, ok looks like it has been proven that exercise is healthy. Do you have any suggestions of how to maintain an exercise program? I will exercise for a while and then just quit.


Hi Windy,

You are not alone. In general, people are able to stick to an exercise program if they find exercise they enjoy, schedule it in their routine, share it with others and experience benefits from the exercise. For me, I love the woods so snowshoeing in the winter, hiking in the summer works well. Additionally I find running meditative. I do one of these activities during my lunch hour at work. I don’t exercise with people as my exercise is my "alone" time but many find it helpful to have the encouragement of exercise buddies. I often ask people what exercise they enjoyed as a child and try to direct their exercise program toward that. Keep in mind that any exercise is good and that few folks return from a walk or run and say "Shoot , I wish I had stayed on the couch and watched TV rather than exercising" yet many of us find reasons to not exercise now.

Dr Julia

Blackhead Disease in Turkey

Blackhead Disease in Turkeys

By Judy Derrickson                                 

Contributing Writer

South Carolina


    It is my opinion that turkeys are birds that wake up each day and say, "It's a good day to die!" 


Read more: Blackhead Disease in Turkey

Ask Dr. Julia - Knee Injuries 101

Outdoor Medicine

Q: Dear Dr. Julia,

I am 91 years old and discovered a slight pain on the inside of my knee last month after swinging from a hanging vine and landing on the back of a running deer. Because of my knee pain, I was unable to stay on the deer and fell off.  After being discovered by a survey crew on Day Ten and after a short helicopter ride home, I decided to take it easy around the house.  What can a girl like me do and how long do I have to sit around the house watching re-runs of Melrose Place?”

Deer chaser

A: Hi Deer Chaser,

Given your name and experience, I applaud your method of aerobic exercise and am sorry to hear of your injury. You may need some physical therapy before you return to your full exercise program. Yes, make an appointment with your doctor so that he or she can diagnose your knee pain as I am unable to do that without a physical exam, However, I can give you some general information about knee injuries.

The knee is a complex hinge joint that consists of bones, tendons, cartilage, synovial membrane, ligaments, menisci, and bursa. Injury to any of these can cause pain. You were hurt on the inside of
your knee, which we call the medial side. Even though your method of aerobic exercise is rather uncommon, your injury is quite common.  The most frequently injured knee ligament is a medial
collateral ligament and the most frequently injured knee meniscus is a medial meniscus.

In general, these injuries, as well as a fracture of the top of the tibia, (tibia plateau fracture) cause pain at the medial joint line. Pain below the medial joint line can be an inflamed bursa or even a low grade medial collateral ligament strain. All of these injuries can cause swelling of the joint. If your doctor diagnoses a medial meniscus tear, then you can give this some time to see if it heals.  If it continues to cause pain, surgery is an option. A tibia plateau fracture will need immobilization and time to heal.  Once your doctor diagnoses you by your history, his physical exam, and possibly also an x-ray or MRI, you might ask if physical therapy would benefit you. The objective is to get you back in the field chasing those deer with a smile on your face.

More by Julia Heinz

Outdoor Med: Wilderness Aid
Dr. Julia writes about the many medical issues that can arise in the outdoors, ...

One Woman's Alaska Bear Hunt
The Friday workload, after extending past 5 PM, is finally done. I hesitate to embark on a trip upriver at such ...

Women Hunting Dall Sheep in the Brooks Range, Alaska

My experience in the wilderness began while growing up in the South Georgia swamps, when my father and I hunted wood ducks. While completing college, my love of nature took me to northern California, ...

Hunting Species of Alaska
Alaska Hunting species and method Julia Heinz Staff Writer Alaska Hunting in Alaska changes your life and creates memories that will become a part of your being for the rest of your life...

Wilderness Aid

Wilderness Aid

Julia Heinz, MD

Introducing a new series by Dr. Julia Heinz, who will write about the many medical issues that can arise in the outdoors, and how she personally deals with them.

Read more: Wilderness Aid

Building Pontoons to Stabilize a Bowfishing Boat

Building Pontoons to Stabilize a Bowfishing Boat

By Kathleen Kalina


This is chapter 3 of the book  "How to Build a Bowfishing Boat" found on Amazon books for kindle and Ipad.

The book is a detailed instruction with photos

Bow fishing with three or more people who are walking and shooting can cause the boat to become tippy especially if you don’t have a 6ft wide jon boat. There are several solutions to this problem and all require building some sort of outrigger to increase buoyancy. Pontoons can be made by using 6 inch PVC pipe. Some people attach it directly to the side of their boat so it’s permanent. Installing pontoons to hang from the bowfishing platform makes it easier to remove if the boat is going to be used for other activities.

The photo shows one of the pontoons after it’s attached to the top platform.

The book shows another version of the pontoons.



Both pontoons mounted on boat




Power Struggle–Demystifying Batteries

We live in a battery-powered world, yet little is written about those little round tubes filled with lead. There’s a big difference in batteries, and I’m going to take some of the mystery out of them. What prompted this article is a 12-volt power pack I have for a hedge trimmer I bought 15 years ago. The power pack went dead and when I contacted Sears about a replacement, they said it was no longer available. The power pack and hedge trimmer sat in the pole barn for 10 years…it was too good to throw out.

I really wanted to use that hedge trimmer this spring because my hedges were looking rather gangly. I took the power pack apart to see what the battery looked like. It was a small rectangular battery, about 6 inches long, 2 ½ inches wide and 3 ¾ inches high, with the connectors at one end. On the tag in parentheses was (12V, 6.5Ah/20HR). I knew the 12V meant it was a 12-volt battery. However, I wasn’t sure what the other combination of numbers and letters stood for. I was determined to find a replacement battery. Not knowing much about batteries, I began to look into them.

The first place I looked was in my McMASTER-CARR Supply Company book. I love this book because it has just about everything imaginable in it when it comes to supplies and tools for manufacturing. Since I have a machinist background (for over 30 years), and once owned my own machine shop, this has become a bible for me. Not only can you buy just about anything, at the beginning of many sections, there’s an information panel explaining the differences in the items listed in that section. For instance, you can learn about batteries, transformers, bearings, plastics, nylons, steel, aluminum, and so much more! This book has a wealth of information on batteries and also lists almost every battery available. Here is what I learned from the book…

Disposable Batteries

A disposable battery’s life is determined by the chemical makeup and capacity of the battery in combination with the amount of energy required to power the device it’s used with. The most familiar of these batteries include Carbon Zinc (standard everyday batteries), Heavy Duty Carbon Zinc, Alkaline, Super Alkaline, a lesser known Air Alkaline, Lithium, and Silver-Oxide and Zinc-Air.

Carbon-Zinc Batteries

Standard carbon-zinc batteries are the cheapest, most readily available battery on the market. They come in many sizes, with the most popular being AAA, AA, C, D, 9-volt plus 6 and 12-volt lantern batteries. These batteries should only be used in low-drain, occasionally used devices. Heavy-duty carbon-zinc batteries will last longer in low-drain applications and can be used in medium-drain, occasionally used devices.

Alkaline Batteries

Alkaline batteries are the most popular and come in the same sizes as the carbon-zinc batteries, plus a button style used in calculators and watches and specialty alkaline batteries commonly used in photo, electronic and medical equipment. These should be used in medium to high-drain, often-used devices. Super Alkaline batteries last longer than standard alkaline batteries in high-drain applications. Air Alkaline batteries, though not as common, are a hybrid battery that lasts twice as long as alkaline and eight times as long as carbon-zinc batteries. These are larger batteries like the 6 and 12-volt lantern style batteries. The case has tiny holes that are sealed with tape, and the battery is activated by air when the tape is removed. These batteries are commonly used in lanterns, barricade lights and telecommunications devices, because they keep voltage output at a constant level.


Lithium (button style) batteries have a slightly higher voltage rating (3v) than Silver Oxide or Alkaline button style batteries (both 1.5v) and are used as the main power source or a back-up power source in cameras because of their long shelf life. These batteries are generally very thin, flat disks ranging in size from a dime to a quarter. They are also used in computers to power the internal clock.

Silver Oxide

Silver Oxide batteries are the familiar button style batteries used in low voltage, low-drain items like watches and calculators. These batteries can be used in place of alkaline button style batteries in most applications. The batteries are all 1.5 volts, but they come in different sizes and have different milliamp-hour ratings (see rechargeable batteries below), therefore it’s important to get the equivalent replacement, or you could run into problems with performance. When buying a replacement, there’s a listing of equivalent batteries on the back of the package, including a cross-reference to alkaline batteries when appropriate. If given the choice between alkaline and silver oxide batteries, I’ll always choose the silver oxide, because the battery will last longer.


Zinc-Air batteries are the familiar hearing aid batteries we see hanging on the pharmacy counter. While they look exactly like silver oxide batteries, they have a slightly less voltage rating (1.4V) and their chemical make-up is different, because hearing aids are a low-voltage high-drain appliance (while watches and calculators are low-voltage, low-drain). While you can use a silver oxide battery in hearing aids in an emergency, you could damage the appliance and the batteries won’t last very long.

Rechargeable Batteries

These batteries come in many shapes, sizes and voltages. Besides the standard sizes mentioned earlier (except buttons), they come in a wide array of specialty sizes suitable to the application they are used in. The most popular rechargeable batteries come in Alkaline, Nickel Cadmium (NiCad), Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH), Lithium Ion (Li-Ion), Sealed Lead Acid, and the familiar car/motorcycle/riding lawnmower battery, which is a refillable lead acid battery. Since the car battery is so familiar, I won’t mention those (although the information on sealed lead acid batteries also applies to refillable lead acid batteries), but there’s a big difference in the others. Some batteries you can exchange (alkaline versus NiMH or NiCad) as long as the size/style and volts are the same. However, if your devise calls for a certain battery type, you best stick with that type. Also, never mix the types of batteries (like disposable and rechargeable alkaline).

Smaller rechargeable batteries (everything but the 6/12 volt sealed lead acid batteries) have a milliamp-hour rating, which is marked on the battery as a number followed by mAh or mA-hr. For example, the AA batteries I have for my camera are marked 2200mAh. When I was looking for camera batteries, I found 1050mAh, 1800mAh, 2050mAh and 2200mAh. Milliamp-hours is simply a measure of the usable hours of a battery (translated to battery life). The larger the number, the longer the battery will last. Buy the batteries with the most mAh you can find, (many are priced exactly the same) especially if you are buying standard AAA, AA, C or D batteries. They will hold a charge longer and you won’t have to recharge them as often!

If you find yourself replacing standard batteries in your electronic devises quite often, rechargeable batteries can save money in the long run. The initial expense is the batteries and the charger. More information on battery chargers is at the end of this article.

Rechargeable Alkaline

Rechargeable alkaline batteries can easily replace the standard non-rechargeable alkaline or Carbon Zinc batteries we are all familiar with (except 9v which are not available). Alkaline batteries can be charged up to 25 times, feature a longer-lasting charge, are more environmentally friendly, and are also much less expensive than nickel cadmium (NiCad) batteries. However, they have a shorter usable life expectancy than NiCad.

Nickel Cadmium (NiCad)

NiCad batteries come in AAA, AA, C, D and 9v, plus many specialty sizes used in two-way radios and cameras. These batteries are also used in power tools and portable appliances as well as in cordless phones. When you see a battery pack that looks like a bunch of batteries held together with shrink-wrap, (like those used in cordless phones) those are rechargeable NiCad battery packs. NiCad battery packs consist of individual battery cells joined together and wrapped in PVC shrink-wrap. If you were handy, you could actually make your own battery pack by using the same number and size of cells, taping them together and soldering the tabs.

NiCad batteries can be recharged hundreds of times. However, they must be completely drained before being recharged or they develop what some call a "memory", shortening the life and storage capacity of the battery. They’ve improved the performance of NiCad batteries over the years, so this isn’t as much of a problem as it used to be.

Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH)

NiMH batteries come in AAA, AA, 9v, and specialty sizes used in cameras, camcorders, cellular and cordless phones. The big difference is battery life. These batteries can be recharged a thousand times and they don’t have to be completely drained before being recharged. This is a great asset if you are using a camcorder or camera. NiMH batteries are also more environmentally friendly than NiCad batteries. If you have a choice between NiCad or NiMH batteries for your devise, choose NiMH. The batteries will last much longer in both useable power and age.

Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion)

Li-Ion batteries are used mostly in cellular phones, and some cameras and camcorders. These batteries are lighter in weight than NiMH batteries and have longer operating times, which is useful if you are on the go a lot and can’t recharge your batteries as often.

Sealed Lead Acid, AGM

Absorbed glass material (AGM) helps immobilize the electrolyte (battery acid) in these batteries, making them leak resistant and useable in almost any position except upside down. They are housed in durable plastic, are various sizes (generally rectangular cubes) and have a variety of terminal styles and terminal locations. These batteries come in 2, 4, 6 and 12 volts, and are very versatile and powerful enough to be used for backup applications such as emergency lighting, alarm systems and uninterruptible power supplies for portable computers. The most common of these are the 6 and 12-volt lantern style batteries used as a primary power source for portable tools, lanterns, spotlights, and wildlife feeders.

The capacity of these batteries is expressed in amp-hours (AH), which is the total amount of energy available from a fully charged battery over a 20-hour period. These batteries also have a discharge rate, expressed in milliamps (mA), which simply is the constant current discharge rate for that same 20-hour period. For example, a battery with a 2.0 amp-hour (AH) capacity rating will have a 100 milliamp-hour (mA) discharge rating (it will discharge current at a constant rate of 100 mA for 20 hours).

To replace the original equipment sealed lead acid batteries, (like the one I had to replace on my trimmer) make sure the battery type, volts, amp-hours (AH), terminals and battery size match. If you can’t find an exact match, you can get away with a slightly smaller sized battery if it needs to fit in a battery compartment, and you can use a battery with a slightly larger amp-hour rating (I replaced my 6.5Ah battery with a 7Ah one), but you need to make sure you stick with the same voltage, or you could be in big trouble! As for the terminals, you can always change the connectors on the wires to match the terminals on the batteries, or simply solder the wires to the terminals, making sure that the red wire goes to the (+) terminal and the black wire goes to the (–) terminal.

Battery Chargers

You need to make sure the charger you get is for the type of battery you are charging. Placing a NiCad battery in a charger designed for a NiHM battery could cause it to explode. So, when you choose your batteries, choose the appropriate battery charger at the same time so you don’t get them confused. Or if you already have a charger, make sure you read the charger information to see what kind of battery the charger is for and make your purchase accordingly. When choosing a battery charger for 6 or 12-volt sealed lead acid batteries, match the battery charger’s output voltage and amp-hour range to the battery’s voltage and amp-hour rating. You also need to consider the connection style, usually a plug of some sort, screw terminals or alligator clips.

I hope this information was helpful. There’s really no mystery to batteries if you know what to look for! By the way, I finally found a battery for my power pack about a month ago. It was sitting on the shelf of a Tractor Supply Store, in the electric fence department!


"Dare To Be Stupid" My Misadventures In The Great Outdoors

While I freely admit to sometimes being the female Weird Al Yankovic of the forest, I truly do make an effort to be serious about my hunting sports. After years of hunting, being an outdoor writer, and now heading up a hunting related business, I am supposed to ooze confidence, wisdom and primitive suave faire. I'm supposed to have tales of trophy bucks and big adventure. Im supposed to make very few mistakes. I am supposed to aspire to belong to that elite group of hunters and entrepreneurs whom others want to emulate. I am supposed to have an ego the size of Texas, and I am supposed to have arrived. Alas, I must confess. I missed the train.

I have alluded to my proclivity for injury and disaster in previous writings - to wit - "Motor Horse" and "Adventures of a New Landowner, Chapter 2", among others. Also, I have previously stated or implied that I employ hyperbole for the sake of humor. I lied. All of my mis-adventures are true. I do have a remarkable knack for maiming myself and I often have things go so comically wrong that I reduce even myself to hysterical laughter at the folly of it all. There is something oddly endearing about a bumbling goof, even to the goof them self.

Thankfully I was hunting alone this particular weekend so there were no witnesses. I couldn't go to sleep the night before because I was so excited about the following mornings archery hunt. Reaching to smack the snooze button on my alarm clock, I got an unexpected adrenalin rush when I instead connected with an inverted trail marking tack. Stupid tacks. After the bleeding stopped, I scurried about like a red squirrel to get into my cammies on and gear loaded for the morning archery deer hunt, only slamming my shin once. Rain the night before had turned to mist, and the walk to my stand was silent, close and very dark. Once into the deep woods, my trail tacks had virtually disappeared from the moisture, with only a couple of my FireTacks being visible. I returned to the FireTacks many times to get my bearings, but after 45 minutes of wandering around lost in the dark unable to find my stand, every deer for miles undoubtedly knew there was a fool in the woods. As dawn brought clarity, I found the stand I had placed a month before, near a funnel along a thick tag alder swamp. I got in quietly and was determined that my luck would change. Once settled, I promptly sliced my thumb on a broadhead... the first time ever. Bleeding like a stuck pig, I sat there sucking my filleted digit till the sun came up, wondering if there was any truth to the rumor that female blood worked as a scent lure for whitetails. My question was soon answered as several curious (and I'm sure laughing) deer downwind of me wheezed and bolted. Of course I forgot bandaids, so after wrapping the lacerated appendage in toilet paper, I sat and mused at the dead silence of the woods, wrought by my numerous and audible blunderings.

Most of my hunting days and time spent in the woods are successful. I see many deer and other wildlife, and I usually have my act together. It does seem however, that I have an uncanny knack for hurting myself and I often have so many bumps, bruises, and pulled muscles that I could swear an unknown enemy somewhere had a voodoo doll in my likeness that they tortured daily. My Mom recently stood watching me and mused how she saw the same Little Linda at age four, walking quickly with focused resolve for an objective at hand, only to fall on her face having failed to notice an obstacle. In my own defense, weve all had those days, where things didnt click and where we might have been wiser to simply spend the day in our sleeping bag, eating crackers and watching TV.

My own blood and I are good buddies but fortunately, a high pain threshold keeps things in perspective. One benefit of being deep in the woods when a tree drops on your leg, a hammer connects with your thumb, or a limb whacks you in the head, is the unbridled freedom to express the pain via primal screaming. Plus, the hyperventilation of a good sustained howl quickens the endorphin rush that numbs the pain. More than once, my local adopted grandpas who own land near me, have come tearing up my road on a tractor or ATV to be sure my death cries werent real. I don't cuss and swear, but hollering to high heaven is therapeutic for pain much like the Bradley method is to childbirth. I have the same patterns of cuts and bruises on my shins at age 49 as I did when I was 10 years old. My dear non-hunting husband just shakes his head and chuckles when I come back from up north and do a cat walk to show off my latest contusions.

So, was chain sawing all those trees to make our road worth taking a 12 ounce tow hook in the face, lacerating my lip and later felling a tree on my quadriceps muscle? Was running full bore up that forest path last summer, just because it felt good, worth tripping and falling on my face because I didn't see that rock in the way? Was the adventure of scouting a new area of thick forest worth getting my eyes dive bombed by voracious mosquitoes and having to excise wood ticks from my derriere later in the day (the only place I didn't apply Deet)? Was the tree stand I just built worth bruising the same spot on my shin to the point where I look like I'd been beaten? Was moving 2 tons of bricks and 6 yards of Class 5 gravel by hand, worth getting double tendonitis? Was getting my first deer worth getting hypothermia? Was stand up riding on my ATV along our rough big swamp trail worth the whiplash I sustained when I jettisoned head over teakettle off the front of the quad as it stopped solid on a buried log? Was sitting in a ground blind bear hunting in a lightening storm alone last year worth getting my face spattered with hot bacon burn as the rain drops landed in it?

Oh ya. It's all worth it. Besides, as a female, I can always cover everything up with flesh colored putty and a long skirt. Yes, I will Dare to be Stupid till my dieing day... which given my love affair with disaster, might be sooner than my Maker had in mind. They may someday find me frozen solid in my tree stand, but I will have a huge smile on my face, I guarantee you.


"Mud Party" Caring for Mother Nature

"Getting good mud". It is a term that gives ATV enthusiasts a shiver of excitement and gives ATV anti’s a shudder of disgust. True, there is good mud, and bad mud. The so called "bad" kind is tied to real or imagined environmental damage of one kind or another. Sometimes damage is unavoidable and even necessary. There is a minority of people who abuse the privilege ATVing, and unfortunately that casts doubt on the integrity of all ATVers. Responsible trail maintenance is a must for all ATV enthusiasts.

Unless an ATV trail is over hard ground, or is improved with road rock or Class 5 gravel, mud is inevitable. Nubbly ATV tires bite at the earth and can quickly shred vegetation in wheel paths. Ensuing ruts collect water and do not drain, creating more mud. Add wet weather, and you have a real mud party. A little mud is fun, but a little can turn into a lot in a heartbeat. Soon an area can become impossible to cross. Corrections and repairs should happen before a mud problem grows to insurmountable proportions. The right fix will not only correct trail problems, but will prevent them from happening in the future. There are a number of ways to fix a mud mess, ranging from bridging, to shoring, to filling. Which method you choose depends upon how "bad" your mud is and often you travel a particular trail.

Good Grass

For trail areas that are just beginning to show muddy patches, the easiest fix is often a simple planting of vegetation. Hardy grasses, as well as clover and other perennials can do the trick. Mowing or trimming are not needed. Thirsty plants wick up excess water and put a plant layer between your quad wheels and the soil. In areas more frequently traveled, ATV tires may kill some of the plantings, but the center path will still hold enough water seeking flora to help keep trails more dry.

Fill er’ Up

Small muddy areas, dips, divots or wash boarding are the next easiest trail problems to fix. It is best, but not mandatory, to let the area dry out some before you begin. Generally, a fill of 1-1/2 inch road rock topped with class 5 gravel are all that is needed. Loosely fill the problem area with road rock. Add a 1-2 inch layer of class 5 gravel and finish it slightly rounded. Don’t worry about smoothing and pack finishing the Class 5. Between riding over the area, and the leveling effect of a good rain, your "patch" should set up within a two or three weeks. Some hot sunny weather will further "set" the clay in the Class 5. If rain is not in the forecast, you might consider lightly watering the area to help set the gravel. Some additional gravel to the rough spots a month or so later will finish up the job.

Chain Gang

For areas that are alternately wet and dry, like swamp edges or drainage deltas, a substrate of chain link fencing with road rock over drain tile can be a fast, easy and relatively inexpensive fix. The area to be repaired should not be completely muddy, but not completely dry either. First fill deeper pockets with road rock or even put unopened bags of Quik-rete in deeper divots. Choose drainage areas, dig them out, and put in 6 inch fabric wrapped drain tile shoed up with road rock. Put the drain tile just deep enough so that 3 inches of soil over it brings it even with your trail. With the base and drain tile in place, roll out 6-7 foot wide chain link fencing over the surface and finish with another inch of so of road rock. With water directed through the drain tile, the area will settle and dry in a few days or weeks, depending on weather. The chain link also will keep your quad from sinking in holes until they fill in naturally.

Fly Over

For swamps, streams, drainages or other areas that are simply too wet to be traversed, you will need to build some sort of crossover structure. A simple crossover could be a string of palettes. Palettes made of hardwood, like oak, are best. Problematic with palettes however, are tire popping nails that come out as the wood ages. If an area is not highly traveled and not wet year round, palettes could be a simple a solution.

A more permanent type of crossover is "corduroy". Imagine the look of corduroy fabric. Place fresh cut logs 4-6 inches in diameter and 8 feet long, perpendicular to the trail for the entire length of the area to be crossed. Make sure the logs are tight against each other. Shore up the ends with road rock, ramping the access points so the logs don’t roll. Corduroy has the advantage of allowing water flow without causing a dam effect, but has the disadvantage of washing out in heavy drainage situations. Corduroy works in areas with shallow mud or wet areas, but deeper wet areas require more structure. Corduroy can be topped with road rock or Class 5 gravel for added stability.

The most permanent solution is bridging. A bridge structure can be simple instead of engineered. Stream crossings may require an engineered bridge and that is beyond the scope of this article. Drainages, swamp funnels or other narrow crossings can be bridged with a simple structure called a "floating" bridge. The bridging does not actually float, but it is not attached to or supported by poured cement pilings. Instead, start with cement blocks, placing blocks 4 feet apart widthwise, and every four feet the length of the area to be crossed. You can make your crossing straight, or curved. Place 8-foot, 4x6, or 6x6 green treat lumber, railroad tie fashion, using the blocks for support. Shore up areas that are uneven with brick or rock placed under the cement blocks. Using galvanized 4 inch twist nails, affix 8 foot green treat 2x12’s perpendicular to the 6x6 support beam stringers. Ramp each end of your bridge for easy on and off. Oak palettes are useful for ramping. Use them as a base and nail 2x12’s to connect the palettes to your bridge. Even though this type of bridge is not permanently attached to the ground, the enormous weight of it keeps it from washing away in all but the worst flood conditions.

Divide and Conquer

Sometimes an area becomes just plain hopeless and you will have to abandon your trail and reroute it to higher dry ground with better drainage. A rule of thumb for blazing ATV trails, is to first mark your way with surveyors tape or reusable FireTape, marking out the path your want your trail to go. Mark trees to be cut by notching them. Take your compass so your trail goes the most direct route without meandering. Once this planning step has been done, cutting a new ATV trail can go three times as fast, especially if you have a helper or two. Remove logs, fill holes, and level areas that tilt more than a 20 degree slant to avoid tip-overs. Helpful tools in blazing ATV trails, are a chain saw, brush whacker, pruner, crescent saw and shovel.

Timing is Everything

Like most things in life, your timing for the use and repair of ATV trails is important. Racing around on your quad in early spring when the frost is coming out of the ground makes a huge mess that will require a lot of work later. Better to wait till the ground dries out. Repairing trails when there is standing water will often result in doing the work twice. Better to wait for trails to drain. However, a damaged trail that gets too dry is equally difficult to repair, especially in clay type soils. And don’t be tempted to do a quick fix or to cheap out on repair materials. You will likely be doing the whole job over again next year.

With wise use, proper care and smart maintenance, your ATV trails will provide years of recreational and utility use, and all your mud will be good!

Mud Party
Linda K. Burch


“Fungus Hunter”

Ah, another Kodak moment.

I stood facing the mirror with my reading glasses perched on the end of my nose, my left arm in the air, elbow bent, attempting to flatten out my armpit surface for… the operation.  I had been painting and trimming my house till 2am in the morning, and my arm had started to ache.  When I went to check out why, there IT was… a deer tick in my left pit, solidly buried and having me for supper.  Since I have been in the process of moving, all my medical supplies were packed somewhere.  Rummaging around I found nail polish remover.  That killed the wee beast.  Now I needed to perform… the extraction.

OH, the pain.  I searched for rubbing alcohol to no avail.  No hydrogen peroxide solution, no ointment, no nothing.   Resolving to use Easy Off Oven Cleaner if I had too, I frantically threw cupboards open for any antiseptic or numbing agent.  Then I spied an ancient bottle of Bombay Sapphire Gin.  Perfect!  Swabbing said beastie with gin effectively numbed the general area so I could first pluck it out and then probe with a sewing needle to remove… the jaws.   Alas, failure with the jaws, so I bandaged my bloody pit for the night of fitful sleep.  My bed seemed to be full of woodticks.  A visit to the doctor in Isle the next day ended with a prescription.

This pretty much topped off the comedy of errors that was my first morel mushroom hunting safari.  I had missed out turkey hunting this year because of cancellations and bad weather, so the notion of ‘mushroom hunting’ seemed like an ingueing substitute.  I love ‘shrooms and forged off into my woods like Don Quixote in search of the elusive fungi.  How hard could it be to find a fungus in the woods?  I had seen a few mushrooms over the years.  My son and I had talked about mushroom hunting for awhile, but had never done it.  I optimistically took along a tin bucket, a stick to lift leaf piles, a fanny pack but no Deet.  After all, it had been such a cold spring, there would be no bugs,  right?  Logic and old science classes told me that fungi like moist dark spots.  So I spent the day looking on the north sides of hills, the north sides of trees and other shady, wet areas.  The problem, I was told later, is that morels like things WARM and dark, and in a cold, wet year, that is the south sides of trees.  I hiked around for two hours and saw nary a ‘shroom.  I got on the phone later with a Mushroom Master friend who dissected the folly of my first ‘hunt.’  I realized with what little knowledge I had of morel mushrooms, I was like a new deer hunter in the woods all dressed in camo and gear but with no bow and arrows.  Not to be defeated, I planned another hunt the following weekend.  I had similar results, but no ticks in bad places, thankfully.

For my third outing, I invited my mushroom expert friend along.  Again, we found no morels but we did stumble on an incredibly spectacular growth of Sulfur Shelf or Chicken of the Woods mushrooms.  Typically these grow from August into fall, but with our wet, cold and rainy spring, there they were in profusion.  We took some photos, harvested a few samples and had them for dinner.

The following weekend I returned with buckets, knife, camera and ATV.  The 'shroom cluster had quadrupled in size in one week!  I harvested all I could and filled four five-gallon buckets.  After an afternoon of paring, blanching and freezing most of the harvest, I had a big bowl of the blaze orange “chicks” for supper.  Sulfur Shelf growing on dead oak is good.  The same mushroom growing on other trees, like conifers or hemlock, could make you sick to the point of throwing up or getting your stomach pumped.  I was sure to research carefully before I harvested or ate this delicacy.  And delicacy, it was.  To me, it has the texture of the most tender white chicken meat with flavor overtones of sweet lobster and the traditional mushroom taste of course.  Sautéed in butter with a few spices of your choosing is all that is needed for a gourmet side dish with steak, venison, wild turkey, or other main course meat.  I also plan to make soups, casseroles or pasta dishes with the 'shrooms, using them much like I would crab meat.

I had never really noticed most of the mushrooms in the woods until I started looking for them, much like I never really noticed whitetail deer being everywhere until I started hunting them.  Upon seeing the quantities of mushrooms I harvested, my neighbor Ken Rick noted that a person could eat completely out of what they could harvest from the woods.  So true.  I have only scratched the surface of wild edibles however.  While I will never be Yule Gibbons, I do enjoy the primal activity of harvesting from wild nature for my food and drink rather than buying everything prepared and grown by others from the store.  Next time you are in the woods, take time to look down  You never know what you might find.


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